Erl Vaere: Thy Voice

Vaere Longship, Elsinore, JPEGFig. 1                         Ferris © 2013  

Hamlet, VAERE, thy voice, JPEGFig. 2

Hamlet, Erl Vaere, Vaere, Prs., JPEGFig. 3

   The word “erl” was in use before 900 B.C.E..  In Old English, “erl” was sometimes spelled “eorl” (cognate with Old Saxon, “erl”), and meant “nobleman”, “warrior”.  In Anglo-Saxon poetry “eorl” denoted a “warrior”, a “brave man”.  In later Old-English, during the Danish dynasty in England, a viceroy (“under-king”) was called an “eorl”, and was the equivalent of Old Norse, “jarl”.  In Middle English, up to 1066, an “erl” was variously spelled:  “erl”, “erle”, “earl”, or “earle”.  From 1066 and the Norman Conquest of England, this title was considered the equivalent of the Latin “comes”, and  could mean “earl” or “friend”.  Thus, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, as a signature, could be represented in its Latin form, “Edwardus Comes Oxon{iensis}” , or simply with the initials, “E.C.O.”, and was translated as “Edward de Vere, our friend from Oxford”                   



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